I conduct pest control on several golf courses, the largest of which spans out just shy of 100 acres – and I can tell you that it’s murder on the feet when I’m out all night lamping! Then, watching the last of t he day’s golfers return to the ‘nineteenth’ in their little golf buggies, I had a brainwave – why not use one of them?
I spoke to the course manager, only to find out that the ones on site are all privately owned by club members. “You’d have to buy your own,” he told me, “but it’s not as bad as it sounds. They cost peanuts…”
Well, after extensive research on the internet, I quickly came to the conclusion that peanuts are pretty damned expensive… and there’s certainly not enough money to be made in the air rifle pest control business for me to be splashing out the readies on hunting wheels for one venue.
Next time I visited the club and told the manager that it was a no-go, he lead me to a utility buggy that was up for grabs at the club. At 11 years old, this 4×4 was basically a beefed-up golf buggy with an in-built tipper trailer-cum-cargo box that the groundsmen used in their day-to-day activities. Until, that is, it “fell into a hazard”, after which the manager invested in a new machine (and a new groundsman!).
A 25mph, 250cc Club Car Turf II XRT, it had been sitting idle for a while, but with an overhaul and tidy-up, I felt it would be the perfect bunny-hunting wagon for my pest control activities – and at 500 quid, I also thought it was a bargain. With some work, imagination and a few modifications, I felt I could turn it into a ready-made hide on wheels, and a welcome relief for my poor old feet.
As it turned out, ‘some work’ translated into a rather long list: I had to fix the engine and gearbox, weld the cracked chassis, fit a new battery – plus plenty of general cosmetic touches to restore it to its former glory. Still, the overall cost was ultimately a lot less than the two-and-a-half grand most second-hand ones were making on eBay.
I didn’t bother repairing the tipper unit’s pneumatic arm as I’d have no need for this feature – though the cargo box is just the job for carrying all my kit… not to mention the piles of rabbits I shoot on this site. It’ll even hold me! In time, I plan to paint it in camo, and I’ve put plenty of padding around it to protect my rifle during transit, and for scratch-free rifle resting.
I pin back the heavy doors so that I can shoot out of both sides when out on my own, or shoot while sitting or standing in the back-box if I have a driver, and I’m also toying with the idea of adding a gun rack so that I can take a couple of different rifles out with me.
Since commissioning this buggy, the acreage I’m now able to cover in one night is greatly increased, and I can get several circuits done. It’s far more efficient than traipsing round the course on foot, and my head-count per hour rate has dramatically improved. When pest control is a job, rather than a pastime, that’s a result.
In hindsight, an electric-powered model would have been quieter – but even though the petrol motor is louder, the rabbits actually don’t seem that bothered. Plus, I don’t have the hassle of having to keep charging the battery, or worry about it running flat when I’m at the far end of the course. Petrol-wise, the buggy runs on almost nothing anyway.
Since using it for my lamping jobs here, I’ve had good success – and in comfort, for once – keeping the course manager more than happy, too. Anyone who has a lot of ‘permission’ to cover could do well with one of these. All told, mine’s set me back around £900, so it’ll be a while before it breaks even – but on the other hand, I’m completing my jobs in half the time compared to when I was controlling the vermin on foot.
Or, put another way, it’s giving me twice as much shooting opportunity for each session. With a bit of netting, it doubles up as a place-anywhere hide that can be driven to any spot and set-up in an instant. That makes it worth every penny in my book!